A Summer of Opportunities as a STEM Student Trainee

August 22, 2023

Hello, I’m back for the last time to share all about my amazing summer with Caterpillar! I’m sad to be entering my last few days here, although they have been packed with excitement. 

Since my last check in, I have made progress on my coupler lines project, and was also assigned one last kit to work on. This kit was a headlight guard kit, which was a simple kit that prevents dirt and debris from damaging the headlights on small wheel loaders. As always, I enjoy being able to work on kits, as they create a deeper understanding of how the machine works, as well as how the kit interacts with the machine. Alongside this, I have made great progress on my coupler lines project. Shortly after my fourth week here at Caterpillar, I was tasked with creating a solution for the coupler lines on the small wheel loaders. In certain applications the coupler hoses are closer to the ground which could reduce overall durability.  To solve this issue, my team helped me get the proper measurements and give feedback on any of the ideas I may have had. After doing some research, I decided to go with extension springs that would connect to the hoses and pull them up towards the center of the linkage. In doing this, the hoses were raised 4 inches higher, which is ample improvement! Further testing showed that these springs did not interfere with any other part of the linkage during normal operation. The test fit up was a success; however, more sophisticated methods of attachment will be necessary to implement this solution, as well as covered springs for safety. Overall, I greatly enjoyed being able to work on a project like this, as it allowed me to gain an understanding of the engineering process. The team made me a plaque with a coupler hose swivel on it to remember the project!

As the summer comes to an end for the interns, we were all given the opportunity to share a few short presentations on everything we worked on this summer. All the interns took on cool projects, and I was excited to hear about all of them. While presentations can be daunting, everyone was super encouraging and eager to ask questions. To celebrate all the work done this summer, the interns spent an evening at Drive Shack. Being able to connect with all the other interns this summer has been great, and I am sad to be leaving them! 

I am grateful for all the super cool opportunities I have had this summer, and I’m lucky to have had one more before I leave. This past week, I was able to get my machine operation certification. I drove a 938 small wheel loader around the test facilities at the CMDC and spent some time digging. I definitely need more practice, although I was able to get some full buckets during the training, and being able to operate a machine was a highlight of my summer.

The opportunity to be the CMDC’s first high school intern is one that is unmatched, and I am incredibly appreciative of everyone that made this experience possible. I hope anyone my age interested in engineering investigates this amazing opportunity. Thank you for taking the time to keep up with me this summer!

Allison driving cat machine